Manila hostages 'will be freed'

Armed men holding 31 schoolchildren and two teachers hostage on a school bus in Manila, the Philippine capital, have agreed to free the hostages and surrender, police have said.

Manila hostages 'will be freed'

Armed men holding 31 schoolchildren and two teachers hostageon a school bus in Manila, thePhilippine capital, have agreed to free the hostages and surrender, policehave said.

Jun Ducat, one of the hostage-takers, agreed to let thehostages go at 1100 GMT, officials said.


Inexchange, police have agreed to let the press cover the surrender. 

CiprianoQuerol, a chief superintendent, told local television: "[Ducat]will just let the hostages go and give himself up.


"Weassured him that he will be in safe hands after he surrenders and that nothingwill happen to him." 

Guns and grenades

Ducat and his two associates are said to havetaken control of the bus after tricking the teachers into believing they werepart of a contingent on a field trip. 

In a note taped to the bus' windscreen thehostage-takers said they were armed with grenades and high-powered weapons.

Ducat is believed to be the owner ofa day-care centre in the suburb of Tondo based in a poor Manila suburb where the incident is believed to havebegun.

He and said the hostage-taking was for the children'sbenefit.

"To the parents of the kids I am with... I am askingfor justice so they can have continued education up to college,'' he said.

Police surrounded the bus and made contact with the men byphone and messages scribbled on sheets of card.

The children on board the bus are reported to be aged fiveand below. One child suffering a fever has already been released from thevehicle.

Ducat earlier told local radio that he wantedto ensure the safety of the children and sought assurances that the policewould not attack the bus.

"I want to go home to my children, I will surrender ifI will be given an assurance by politicians that they will make sure thesechildren finish college," Ducat said.

"I love these children. If blood will be spilled itwill not come from me, it will be from the police outside."

'A good person'

Mothers of some of the hostages have beeninterviewed on local radio appealing for their children's safety.

"We are asking him to free the children, to let ourkids out,'' said Dema Arroyo, 29, mother of six-year-old hostage Angelica.

"We will forgive him if he will free our children. Wehave no ill feelings toward him. He is a good person."

A Philippine senator has joined negotiations and was seenboarding the bus to talk to the gunmen.

Senator Bong Revilla left the vehicle after about 45minutes carrying a boy who had reportedly developed a fever during thestand-off.

Revilla, who said he knows Ducat, said the other childrenwere in good shape.

He said Ducat was holding a grenade with the pin pulled out,and that his hands were shaking.


Esperanza Cabral, the Philippine social welfare secretary, hasreportedly also spoken with Ducat and offered assurances that the childrenwould get a good education.

Television pictures showed the bus parked in the square infront of the city hall with curtains drawn across most of its windows.

Earlier a woman hostage, apparently one of the teachers, wasseen through the front of the bus signalling for a phone as one of the men heldwhat appeared to be a grenade at her side.

Police officials say they have been given orders to ensurethat the hostage drama, playing out live on Philippine television, endspeacefully.

Localtelevision reports said Ducat was probably the man of the same name who tooktwo priests hostage in the late 1980s after a dispute over building a church.

In thatincident, the weapons used turned out later to be fake and no one was harmed.

Accordingto other reports, he unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2001 and opened theTondo day care centre three years ago.



Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16